The 1983 cult sword-and-sorcery movie Deathstalker produced by Roger Corman is getting resurrected, this time as a 21st century comic book.
Guns N’ Roses rocker Slash and Vault Comics have teamed up for the comic, which will also have the involvement of Shout! Studios, which owns the rights to the Corman library, and Raven Banner Entertainment.
Tim Seeley, best known for his work as the co-creator of horror comic Hack/Slash and DC’s Grayson, is writing the comic with Jim Terry handling art. The duo previously teamed for West of Sundown, a Western vampire comic from Vault. Steven Kostanski, the creature effects artist and filmmaker who has directed segments for the V/H/S and ABCs of Death movies as well as horror flicks such as Psycho Goreman, wrote the story for what is being described as a re-imagining.
Deathstalker followed a warrior named Deathstalker who is sent on a quest to find a magical amulet, chalice, and sword and ends up squaring off against an evil ruler and sorcerer named Munkar. Along the way there are orges, warrior tournaments, and plenty of naked flesh.
The movie was part of a wave of cheap-looking fantasy movies that followed the success of Conan the Barbarian. Deathstalker was known for its poster by fantasy illustrator Boris Vallejo and featured Playboy model and former Hugh Hefner girlfriend Barbi Benton and Lana Clarkson, a model making her feature acting debut and who would go on to become a sword-and-sorcery mainstay. (Clarkson was killed by record producer Phil Spector in 2003.)
“Our Deathstalker is a reimagining of that fine specimen of ’80s sword and sorcery,” Slash said in a statement. “With fantasy, you get a little of everything: horror, magic, sex, thrills, blood, guts, swords and weirdness. You know—all those things you can’t look away from. And that’s what we’re bringing.”
Stated Wassel, “The whole idea of this project is to balance nostalgia for the so-bad-it’s-good fantasy filmmaking of the 1980s with the storytelling sensibilities of our time.”
The project will launch in October with a Kickstarter campaign for a deluxe, oversized hardcover edition of the book (see a preliminary mockup image below), and will also be available in 2024 in both single-issue comic book and trade paperback formats through comic book stores and book shops everywhere.
The creative team is leaning into their ’80s memories to create the comic and are hoping that translates to the page.
“I’m a child of the ’80s. I remember when my dad bought our first VCR in 1982. And I remember the slew of weird and imaginative sword and sorcery VHS tapes that followed,” said Seeley. “Deathstalker has been near and dear to my heart since I was completely disturbed and aroused by it at a far-too-young-age.”
Said Terry, “Being young at the birth of the VHS explosion was magic, and it felt like a time when folks were telling incredibly imaginative stories with limited resources – that charm and creativity would be hard to recreate today but it’s a thrill to bask in that energy with Deathstalker.”
Vault has already found success in the sword-and-sorcery realm with Barbaric, its comic that centers on a barbarian and a talking axe possessed by a demon. That title is the company’s best-selling book and shares many attributes with Deathstalker.